African American Woman Made To Feel She Didn’t Belong In First Class, Kicked Off Over Bubble Guppies

A Florida-based attorney flying American Airlines says her two year old was watching Bubble Guppies quietly, but without headphones. The aircraft was taxiing out, turned around and her family was kicked off the aircraft. She says she was told several times she ‘was in first class’ and felt, as a black woman, that she was being told she didn’t belong.

Modoline Altenor was traveling with her five year old son and two year old daughter, and with her mother and her grandmother from Santo Domingo in the Dominican Republic back home to Miami over the weekend.

She says that a flight attendant told her that her daughter’s “DVD [volume] needs to be lowered” and she says she reduced the volume. Then another crewmember follows up and tells her she’s “been told” and that she’s “in first class [and] can’t disrupt other passengers.” Altenor says she had her daughter turn off the volume completely “down to zero.”

However a crewmember speaks to the captain to have the family removed from the aircraft. The plane returns to the gate.

Removing her family meant wheelchairs and explaining to her 5 year old ‘what they’d done wrong’ and why they couldn’t return home that day, and sorting out accommodations for the night in a foreign country.

According to an American Airlines spokesperson, “Our team is in contact with the customer to better understand her experience.”

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. It’s rude and inconsiderate to play videos without headphones.

    Of course if AA actually had proper in flight entertainment with seatback screens that use headphones this likely wouldn’t have been an issue. Have to wonder how much revenue they lose by delaying flights by having fights/arguments/issues because people have nothing to do on board. Penny-wise and pound foolish. Entertain people and they tend to be quieter and better behaved. That’s important these days considering the type of passenger they are targeting these days. It’s consistent with their cheap/basic/cheap product. They are basically offering and targeting a greyhound bus traveler.

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